Thursday, September 18, 2014

Following a Confederate Soldier Through the Civil War: Battle #4 The Battle of Perryville

William Porter Dickson enlisted in September of 1861 to fight as a Confederate soldier in the Civil War. In the supplement to his 1911 Civil War Questionnaire he listed eight battles in which his company, Company D of the 12th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, took place. I am going to learn more about his company's role in the Civil War by researching these eight battles.

from William Porter Dickson's 1911 Questionnaire
The fourth battle on his list is The Battle of Perryville in Kentucky. Along with battle #3 in Richmond, Kentucky, this was a part of the Kentucky Invasion.

Kentucky, as a border state, had an unusual role in the Civil War. Kentuckians owned slaves, but they also wanted to preserve the Union. In 1861, they declared themselves a neutral state. But, both Union and Confederate armies were raised there. The capital in Frankfurt then declared itself loyal to the Union, but others in the town of Russell voted to secede.

On this map, you can see William's 3rd battle, Richmond, on Aug 30th, 1862
You can also see the 4th battle, Perryville, Oct 8th, 1862 (images from Wikipedia, public domain)
I've already discussed one of the battles that took place during the Kentucky Invasion: the Confederate win at the Battle of Richmond. But, the next battle William fought in was at Perryville, the bloodiest and largest battle fought in Kentucky.

Battle of Perryville - the extreme left - Stwarkweather's bridage
Associated name on shelfist card: Middleton, Strobridge & Co.
Source: Library of Congress (image from Wikipedia)
Led by General Braxton Bragg, about 16,000 Confederates met approximately 20,000 Union soldiers. Partly because many of the Union troops had never fought before, the Confederates had a tactical victory at Perryville. However, the Confederates had thousands of casualties: 532 killed, 2,651 wounded, & 228 missing or captured. With this huge loss, General Bragg retreated to Tennessee and the Union would control Kentucky for the rest of the war.

Abraham Lincoln had said, "'I think to lose Kentucky is to lose the whole game." The war might have ended a lot different if the Union had lost Kentucky.

One last note of interest: the Emancipation Proclamation, which took affect January 1st, 1863, did not apply to the slaves of Kentucky as they were a part of the Union! The slaves of Kentucky were freed with the 13th amendment which was adopted almost 3 years later on December 6, 1865.

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at


  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

    1. Gerald, thank you for your kind comment! And, this reminds me that I never finished this series. I would love to finish it. I need to do more research!


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